(NOTE: This sermon series and devotional series is based on a book by Randy Frazee entitled, “BELIEVE.”
You may choose to download or purchase the book as a supplement to your worship and devotional emails.)
For the past week plus, our nation has been riveted on the case of Kyle Rittenhouse who is being charged with murder of two individuals and attempted murder of a third as he was in Kenosha during Black Lives Matter riots of 2020. His defense is one of self-defense, only firing when his life and body were threatened.
I will admit I haven’t watched all the proceedings and I do pray for the jurors and the judge in this case. It has got me thinking about justice and our justice system.
I remember years ago writing a presentation for a pastors’ conference on two Hebrew words. One word meant “Righteous” and one word meant “justice.” I remember the research well as my discovery of the use of these two terms in regard to their raw meaning and their significance to our faith is profound. (I won’t share everything in a brief devotion.)
The bottom line meaning of these two terms is as follows: “Righteousness” means “right adherence to the law” and “Justice” means “right application of the law.”
The constant in both of these is “the law.” The law is to be an objective standard by which one’s action can be measured “right” or “wrong.” The law removes emotion in that it does not matter what I “feel” about a law or if I “feel” that the action was right or wrong.
Granted, at times there may be challenges to determine WHAT law should be applied or come into play, but emotions are not the bearing of whether justice is served or someone is righteous.
Both are based on an objective standard.
In fact there can be no justice if there is no objective standard. If laws and subsequent sentences were based on raw emotion or popular opinion, there is by definition no justice to be found. I may disagree with the facts or disagree with the judgment, but justice can’t be based on emotion, popular opinion or the latest cause to sweep a country.
It must be based on the objective laws that are stated.
So my prayer in the Kyle Rittenhouse case (and every case, for that matter) is that the action is measured against the law and when that is adequately measured the subsequent judgment is just because the law has been rightly applied.
This past Sunday in the Christian church year was “Last Judgment.” While we didn’t emphasize in our setting, it is a reflection on the day Christ will return and will publicly declare individuals righteous or unrighteous and determine the consequence of heaven or hell.
The sobering reminder of God’s justice is that it is based on his law and his standard is that all obey that law perfectly (righteous). He says in Leviticus 19:2: “Be perfect as I the Lord your God am perfect.”
We all know this standard is impossible to keep. For James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”
No matter how you feel about it, all of us are law breakers and deserve to be sent away from God forever in hell. This would be “just” (i.e. we break the law, the wages of sin is death.). This would be completely fair.
The amazing thing about the Last Judgment is that anyone would be acquitted as “not guilty” and be invited to heaven. Is it because God “feels” some should be saved?
No, salvation is still an objective standard.
Faith in Jesus applies the work of Jesus to our account.
Like Abraham of Genesis 15:6 “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”
Abraham believed God’s promise and God credited to him the status of righteous (one who rightly adhered to the law).
The same promise is given to all who believe in Jesus. Romans 1:17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
God doesn’t change his standard. He objectively looks at us and declares us not guilty not because of our life performance, but because he has applied the righteous life of Christ to our account. He sees Christ’s perfection and invites us to heaven rather than sending us to hell.
Romans 3:21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
This devotion got a little deep…but I pray it makes this point. Pray for justice in our land, for wisdom and clarity of mind for all who are tasked to administer it. Be grateful that God is not swayed away from justice but chose to cover our lack of righteousness with the righteousness of Jesus. You are righteous and you will receive justice.
Apply: Pray for justice in our land. Thank God for being a God of love and justice for you!
Prayer: Thank you for applying the work of Jesus to my account. I recognize my lack of righteousness deserves you condemnation, but I trust that the blood of Jesus and his righteousness cover all my sins. AMEN.